Many know Thotlakonda beach to be a great silent weekend getaway. The spot speaks of serenity and mystique. In the midst of oceanic revel, most tourists forget to pay attention to one of the most important monument found in the region. Thotlakonda was once a treasured Buddhist heritage site. There are evidences left still, that speak about unspoken and unsung Buddhist legacy that existed in Andhra.
Thotlakonda, located near Mangamaripeta about 15 kilometres away from Visakhapatnam on the way to Bheemunipatnam flaunts one of the rich Buddhist sites in the state.
Cisterns that speak historic reminiscence
There are 9 cisterns cut into the rock of the hill, giving birth to the name Thotlakonda, Hill of cisterns. The excavations that were conducted on the site brought to light a monastic complex comprising of a Maha Stupa, Votive Stupas, Silamandapa, Viharas and stone pathways. Many ancient coins belonging to Roman and Satavahana period, Brahmi label inscriptions, fragments of stone railing miniature stupas and sculptural panels depicting Buddha Padas were recovered.
Shreds of red ware, going back to the timeline between 3rd Century BC to 3rd Century AD were also recovered from this site. This Buddhist site is one of the very few in the country that commands a panoramic view of Bay of Bengal.
Remarkable Features of the Buddhist Site at Thotlakonda
One of the troughs on the hill top have been noted to still hold water. These troughs are said to never run dry across the seasons.
Evidence of maritime trade is seen with the old refractory of Himayana culture. It is said that Buddhist monks from far east countries used to come here often via sea and stayed for months and years to finish their studies at length on Buddhism.
The well know eagle shaped hill top in the region gives out beautiful and expansive view of the sea. This spot actually indicates a possibility of being the once great meditation destination for monks.
Nearby proximity with other great Buddhist sites in Sankaram and Bavikonda prove that Vizag was one of the most prominent Buddhist destinations in the world, back in the history.